Sunday, July 4, 2010


(Photo: Kathy Pittard)

My neighborhood celebrates the Fourth of July with a brunch followed by a parade. Bands play on front lawns. Young families push their kids in strollers. Dogs tag along. Even the fire department joins in on the fun by sending an engine to lead the happy throng. Last night, the occasional firework boomed or whistled. Roman candles will light the street tonight. So why am I feeling so restless?

After the parade, I jumped in my truck and went out to check on the river, driving my usual circuit that gives me up- and downstream views from our town's bridges. The flows are wadable again, somewhere around 4,000 cfs, and the spot I like to bushwhack my way down to looked pretty good for shad and maybe stripers. There wasn't a fisherman in sight. So why wasn't I excited? Over a beer at my local dive I realized the reason why.

There are no steelhead in the river. And I miss those migratory fish. The feeling I have today reminds me of something my rugby coach used to pull on us now and then, back in college. For a couple of days we'd play nothing but basketball and soccer. We liked the break at first, enjoyed playing other games that were similar but different. Pretty soon, though, we were trying to make these games a little more like rugby. By the third day we were demanding to play rugby again and our practices were transformed from tedium to pure joy.

Last weekend, my brother and I were in Burbank pitching "Junk Sick," the screenplay we wrote together. It's a horror story set in a detox facility. Writing the script required lots of research into the nature of addiction. So I have to ask myself: When did I become a steelhead junky? And when will I get my next fix?